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Home > News > Professional Issues > Professional Issues Volume 6 > Uncertainty remains for ECE sector as NDIS implemented

Uncertainty remains for ECE sector as NDIS implemented

ece.pngConcerns continue to be raised over the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in terms of funding, the future of current programs and the impact on employees across the early childhood education sector.

Members across the Queensland Early Childhood Education sector remain concerned about the lack of clarity surrounding the planned implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  

Implementation of the (NDIS) commenced on a trial basis in North Queensland earlier this year and the complete state-wide rollout is expected by 2019.  

IEUA-QNT Senior Industrial Officer John Spriggs said key amongst members concerns was the future of a number of State Government programs that currently support inclusion of children with disability; particularly Early Childhood Development Programs (ECDPs) and the Disability Inclusion Support for Queensland Kindergartens (DISQK) Program.

“Of serious concern for members is the State Government’s announcement that EDCPs are unlikely to continue past 2020 once the NDIS is in place and that the future of the DISQK Program will be determined by the level of support provided by the NDIS,” Mr Spriggs said.

At present, Queensland kindergarten services that require funding and support for the inclusion of children with disability may obtain this from a number of federal and state government sources.

“The current State Government funded ECDPs are an important foundational support for children with disability and their families,” Mr Spriggs said.

“In practice, these are often supplemented with resources obtained via the State Department of Education and Training’s Disability Support Unit and from this year, additional funding can also be obtained from the DISQK Program,” he said.

Members maintain concerns

Early Childhood Education Branch Representative Jenny Finlay said the proposed cancellation of ECDP’s was a major concern for members.

“ECDPs are a vital program that allow skills to be developed in the small setting and practiced intensively with lots of support. This then allows those skills to be transferred to the larger setting.”

“Skilled staff are already being transferred from ECPD’s and finding other jobs. Nothing can replace this expertise,” Ms Finlay said.

“For members, many questions are yet to be answered as to how NDIS implementation will affect disability funding in kindergartens: will this be separate to the NDIS (which is capped for the early childhood education sector),” Ms Finlay said.

‘Issues surrounding the impact of the NDIS implementation on employees is also still unclear with staff wellbeing and retention rates a major concern,” Ms Finlay said.

Issues remain unaddressed

Mr Spriggs said the implementation of the NDIS comes at a time where members are already often frustrated in their attempts to provide support for students with a disability, especially in kindergartens with high numbers of students with diverse needs.  

“This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the nature of support provided or funded by government is already limited such that it cannot always be deployed in ways that would bring most benefit to the child,” Mr Spriggs said.

“Both the NDIS, and the Early Childhood Early Intervention Approach, are designed to support intervention rather than education,” Mr Spriggs said.

Survey results reveal reality of situation

With the sector already facing considerable issues in terms of providing support to students with a disability, our union is continuing its advocacy for both employees and students.

“In seeking to define the nature and extent of the problem and to lobby for viable, long-term solutions to the challenges of disability inclusion in early childhood education, our union has recently sought feedback from members working in the sector,” he said.

“The results of that survey revealed that:

  • 50% of services receive funding and support for less than half the time the child with disability attends the kindergarten program.  Only 12.5% receive support for the entire time the child with disability is in attendance
  • 66% of services currently reliant on DISQK funding
  • 88% of respondents indicate that inclusion not possible without provision of a support worker
  • Also reveals major discrepancies between time allocated to tasks and time taken to complete them.
    • Teachers receive little to no allocated time for preparation of Individual Education Plans (IEPs), meetings with parents and planning for inclusion with support workers
    • Support workers receive little to no time for communication with other staff

“This critical member feedback will now form part of our future discussions with both the state and federal governments in order to address the ongoing concerns and issues affecting the sector and its ability to support students with a disability,” Mr Spriggs said.

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.